When the light of Islam almost vanished

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Featured, Life & Society Topics: Islam, Mongols Views: 11393

The genocide lasted decades. Historians said that the world had never seen murder and destruction on such a massive scale. Millions died and those left alive often longed for death. People openly wondered whether the light of Islam would be forever extinguished. But the course of history changed through some of God's most unassuming servants.

In the thirteenth century a tidal wave of devastation swept over the Muslim world. City after city, region after region disintegrated amidst a storm of iron and fire. The death toll was incredible.

Nishapur 1,747,000 dead

Baghdad 1,600,000 dead

Herat 1,600,000 dead

Samarkand 950,000 dead

Merv 700,000 dead

Aleppo 50,000 dead

Balkh completely destroyed

Khiva completely destroyed

Harran completely destroyed

Baghdad was often described as the jewel of the world. For six long weeks this jewel cracked and shattered under the ferocious might of the Tartar hordes. The rivers of the Tigris and Euphrates ran red with blood. Women who had observed modest and chaste lives were savagely assaulted and raped. Five centuries of knowledge accumulated from every literate civilization and contained in the world's largest libraries was reduced to ashes. Many of humanity's greatest centers of education, commerce and culture became nothing more than killing fields.

The architect of this colossal avalanche of death was Genghis Khan. His barbaric legions were triggered into a forty year bloodlust through the folly of the Muslim ruler, Muhammad Khwarizm Shah. Once a powerful and mighty monarch, Khwarizm Shah ordered the execution of Mongol caravans that came to trade within his kingdom. When Genghis Khan sent a delegation of envoys to lodge a formal protest, Khwarizm Shah executed most of them. These two inhuman acts were avenged at the cost of millions of innocent lives.

The Tartar Holocaust began in 1218 CE six centuries after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. It moved westward from Mongolia across Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, southward toward Delhi and northwest to Budapest and Moscow. People as far away as Sweden shuddered at the thought of a Mongol invasion. Muslims were so over-awed by their power that one Mongol could kill over a hundred Muslims and none would dare defend himself. In Arabic a proverb sprang up which meant that if someone tells you the Mongols have suffered a defeat don't believe him.

On the eve of the Mongol invasion, the spiritual state of the Muslim world was pathetic. Corruption, disunity, and materialism were rampant. Khwarizm Shah was not the only example of insufferable leadership. The Abbasid Caliph, Al-Mustasim, was reportedly pleased to hear of the collapse of Khwarizm Shah's empire because of his personal dislike for the monarch. Before the Mongols reached Baghdad, the Caliph's advisors had convinced him to seriously scale back the army. The city was in no way prepared to withstand what lay in store for it.

And yet Islam did not die. Genghis Khan who proclaimed himself as the Scourge of God, who delighted in the rape of conquered women could not exterminate the Muslim ummah. Within a generation the tide had begun to turn in Islam's favour. Baghdad was destroyed by Genghis' grandson Halaku but his great grandson Berek became a Muslim. In fact, Berek withdrew his forces from Halaku's army after the fall of Baghdad which contributed to the first defeat the Mongols suffered against the Muslims during the battle of Ayn Jalut in 1260. The aura of the Mongols' terrifying invincibility was broken. Three years later Berek himself would defeat Halaku's forces in the Caucus region. Those who tried to destroy Islam became its protectors.

The role that ordinary Muslims played in this miraculous recovery cannot be ignored. The entire ummah owes a debt of gratitude to those men and women who never forgot the centrality of their faith or the importance of sharing it with others. Berek or Baraka Khan was introduced to Islam by two unknown merchants. Their efforts eventually led Islam to reach Russia and Eastern Europe.

If the Tartars are regarded as part of Islam's universal brotherhood today, one can thank the efforts of unsung heroes like Jamal Uddeen. The vast Mongol empire was divided amongst the various descendants of Genghis. In certain parts of the empire, the Mongols regarded Muslims as no better than animals while Christianity or Buddhism were expected to become the official state religion. But the sincerity of ordinary believers like Jamal was to outshine all else.

Jamal was a Persian who was travelling through the Middle Kingdom or Chaghatay Khanate known for its animosity toward Muslims. With his small band of travellers he mistakenly went through the game preserves of the Mongol Prince Tuqluq. Jamal was arrested and brought before Tuqluq. In his anger the prince told Jamal that a dog was worth more than a Persian. Jamal replied, "Yes. If we did not have the true faith, we would indeed be worse than dogs." Tuqluq was struck by the reply. He inquired what Jamal meant by the true faith. When Jamal explained the message of Islam Tuqluq was convinced. He asked Jamal for some time to unite the fractured Middle Kingdom and then he would proclaim his faith. Jamal returned home and later fell ill. As he was dying, he instructed his son Rasheed to remind the prince of his promise when he became king. When Tuqluq ascended the throne Rasheed set out to meet him. An ordinary person had little access to royalty and after many efforts Rasheed risked his life to enact a plan. He called out the adhan at fajr nearby the royal compound. He was brought before the king and there he invited him to fulfill his promise. On that very morning Tuqluq Timur Khan, king of the unified Middle Kingdom, became a Muslim.

Death and destruction are ravaging Baghdad once more. The innocent victims of this injustice must not be forgotten. We owe it to them to follow in the footsteps of the Last Prophet, in the footsteps of ordinary believers like Jamal and Rasheed Uddeen and share Islam with each and every human being. The beauty of our character and our sincere conduct need to be the beacons that attract those around us to this Divinely prescribed system of life. True it is Allah alone who guides; it is also true that Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves. For us to do anything less would be to disgrace those who are dying before our very eyes.

Historical Sources:
- Saviours of the Islamic Spirit, Volume 1, by Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi
- History of Islam, Volume 2, by Masudul Hasan
- A Short History of the Saracens, by Amir Ali

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  27 Comments   Comment

  1. bello isiaka from nigeria

    you see in a world where each and everyone of the creature turn back from the almighty Allah, we will be experiencing different kind of chaoos.therefore we should now try not to create indifferent among us and try to go back to our creator .

  2. sara from usa

    I think instead of waiting for some one like jamal we have to search jamal in our selfs ie challange our self to become mumin rather then just muslim. We

    know the cause for the sufferings and Allah has the power to change it but all we have to do is make intension and work on Allah's command. Allah is the most merciful

  3. Al Fulani from Senegal

    So is the next hope that "another" Jamal will make dawa to the arrogant westerners? Perhaps, if Bush was to become muslim then Islam would be safe? What happened in the 13th century was the consequences of muslim lethargy and corruption. What is happening now is the same thing. Muslims have to stand up to their responsibilities before God and history. Nothing more, nothing less... but first, Stop acting like victims: people hate victims and cry babies. As long we have those corrupt leaders and a theologians that forbid to fight the corrupt rulers, we will be the door mats of all nations. They will clean their dirty soles on us. Wassalam

  4. amir asaidali from usa

    Islam has gone through many up and down but, with the grace of Allah, is survived and will survive forever. We need to be patient and do our best.

  5. Shahid from UK

    Please read this everyone and remember the scrifice of previous muslims before us and be united inshallah

  6. Mohamad from USA

    Good article but comparing freeing Iraq from dictatorship by the American to Genkiz Khan is 100% wrong and lessen the value of the article.

  7. Noohu Musah from USA

    You are riht by your closing passages; but how can we share when we muslems discriminate amongst ourselves? I know that one's riches and or knowledge in Quoran or all other good deeds will not guaranteed us 'Jelnaa', except by ALLAH's mercy. Therefore, if we don't change our atittude towards one other, we have not seen any thing yet. The previledge muslems world wide, don't show they ever heard or read about the adith of the Holy Prophet(P.A.B.) be upon Him.

  8. Sanaa from United States

    Well written article. Thematically, it draws attention to a momentous and yet sad period of the Islamic world. Thanks

  9. Muhammad Farooq Javed from pakistan

    This is a good lesson for us in the present situation when muslims are been crushed in war and poverty

  10. Ahmad Bello from Nigeria

    This article is quite impressive becouse it can help in drawing the attention of muslims especially the youths who are the back bone of the Religion to add more effort in their strive toward spreading Islam to every part of the world without fear as more reward awaits those who engage in this act.

  11. Farid from Tatarstan

    The author wrongly puts MONGOL invasion with what's call in modern term Tatar nation.

    the author must have MONGOLS and Chingiz khan clearly explained in the article!

  12. J. A. Sikiru from Nigeria

    The muslim ummah must not relent in their effort to against the eradication of Islamic faithful by the agents of devil - incarnate.

  13. Muhammad Jahangir from Pakistan

    I do agree with the article and thanks writer to enhance our knowledge about our past. However i have a question to the writer on the Second last paragraph where the writer is speaking about Jamal and the author of the article is telling that when jamal caught by Mongles they brought him before the prince, in brief prince after a short discussion Prince promised i will accept islam when i become king which later was reminded by Jamal son, and he reverted accordingly. As the writer mentioned his name was Timur. Here the my question is this that is it the same Timur which is known in the history as Timur lung, who conquered the most part of the Central Asia, who was built the towers by the head of humans during his campaign, even he was remembered the Qurain by heart and he was very punctual in pray. If this was the same man who discussed by the author in his second last paragraph of his article. Then as per my knowledge this Timur was not the prince but was a son a former, he was joined the army at his age of 18. He was the born muslim who was remembered the Qurain by heart in his age of 12. So therefore i requested author of this article if he was discussing about this timur who was also known as Amir Timur, then the author should have revisit his sources. I will appreciate your clarification in this regard.

  14. Khaja N Ahsan from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

    My dear dear brother

    Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahma. I beg to Allah Ta'ala to increase the number of brothers like you, who write such inspiring words. Surely, your huge reward is with Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala. May He increase your capabilities manifold times, Ameen.

    Peace and blessings of Allah be upon our dear and dear prophet and messenger Muhammad Mustafa, salle Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

  15. Dr. Salisu Ahmad Yakasai from Nigeria

    Barakallah! I turn into an expectant ear to the admonition from this historical accounts.

  16. Ben Ames from USA

    This is why we should all live in gratitude. The suffering that we

    go through is nothing compared to the believers who came

    before us. That is why the Quaran specifically mentions them.

    They were the first to carry the message often with a severe

    price. They had such iman that they knew that to follow this

    path meant a death most painful, yet they still carried on and

    did not waiver. We have to do the same and join together and

    expose those who claim to believe, yet they kill and say it is in

    the name of Allah, when it is not only a lie, but a blasphemous

    and horrific act that is forbidden in the Quaran. It is time to

    educate the ignorant and not preach hate and call it Islam. I

    weep when I see people killed "in the name of God" when God

    would never ask such a thing. This life is a test, a test to see if

    you can stay on the path, even when sometimes it's hard to see

    it. Even when sometimes it feels like the whole world would like

    nothing better than to kill you, just be thankful that you were

    given this knowledge and try to share it with others without

    cramming it down their throats.

  17. Timur from USA

    Al Salaamu Alaikum to all of you.

    I am proud to be a tatar but I am even more proud that I am a muslim and have ability to practice my religion today. SubhanAllah the price our ancestors payed, saving this religion for us is very high.

  18. Arif Khan from India

    It is a very beutiful article,which gives a strong message to the present generation to get prepared for a unified life.If we are united we can very well defend the whole Muslim World.This is a time that all our Muslim brethren must leave behind the religous differences and abide the rules laid down in the holy Quran.We should also implement the sayings of the Holy Prophet(PBUH) in our system and then see that the world will be at its knees.

    Arif Khan

  19. zinedine from Morocco

    Salaamu alaikum,

    Remember Imam Ali's statement:

    "Inna Allah yansuru lumma ladila wa in kanat karifa wa yahzimo lumma da'lima wa in kanat mu'mina"

    Allah grants victory to just nations even if they are disbelievers & punishes unjust nations even if they are believers.

    Justice is a public moral value & has an effect on everyone, belief is a personal moral value & only benefits the individual.

    Please read surat Almumtahana in the Quran to see for yourself that we Muslims must be fair & just in our dealings with believers and non believers. Justice is central to Islam. It is the core message of our faith. We must lead the world when it talk about equality, justice and peace. We must walk the walk!!!

  20. Mr.Ghetto from East Oakland Ghetto

    ALLAH will always punish his disobedient MUSLIMS and the innocent amongf them will suffer greatly as well.

    "When the SUNNAH dies out expect affliction!"

    And the once "friend" of the U.S the Iraqi government under Sadam Husein are now apart of that GENOCIDAL HISTORY OF IRAQ! Rape by the whiteman and pilliging is the order of the day in IRAQ once AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Hilal M.Shah from USA

    Br. Jawad Jafery's article is very enlightining. However, he went way too far back in history to trac the plight of today's Muslims. Can you Br. Jafery shed indepth light on what happend to Muslim population during 200 years of British rule over Muslim India? Can you dig deeper into what happend to Ottoman Empire's Turkey after WWI. What can you tell about who cooks for all the rulers of Islamic World that they eat specially rulers of Middle East. What would you say Br. Jafery is the reason that for past few centuries, residence of Muslim World are at bottom of the knowledge pit.

  22. Zaleema from US

    Assalamu Alaikum. A well written account of history. However,if a people fail to learn from history then it will definitely repeat its self. While we take comfort in the hope that Allah will bring us victory, Muslims must do their part. The question that begged to be answered is "what am I doing as a Muslim to ensure that millions of Muslims does not have to die before I get serious about my religion?"

  23. Nazim from US


    JazakAllah khair for this well written history of the Ummah that I didn't know about.

    It gives us hope in the carnage infested Muslim lands we see, and within our hearts aswell.

    I esp. like the ending about changing our own conditions. This entire article brought tears to my eyes. May Allah guide me, you, and all Muslims. Ameen.

  24. Zainon from USA

    Insha'Allah, the tide will turn once more. Ya Salaam. Salaam to all my brothers and sisters. Please don't forget we have, with Allah's idzin, Malaikat-malaikat to help us so please remember to voice your salaam to Malaikat-malaikat.

  25. Tasneem from USa



  26. amjad from u.s

    inshaallah is islam will be victories again. peace be on to all my brothers and sisters and may allah guide us all to the straight path. AMEEN.